F-16 Fighter Jet Crashes into Southern California Building; Pilot Ejects

(KTLA) -- A pilot ejected before an F-16 fighter jet crashed into a building at the end of a runway near March Air Reserve Base on Thursday, authorities said.

FOX40 sister station KTLA reports the crash took place around 3:30 p.m. at the air base in Riverside County, U.S. Air Force Major Perry Covington said.

The pilot managed to eject from the aircraft and was receiving medical treatment, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The pilot was hospitalized in stable condition and not seriously injured, officials said.

Twelve people who were inside the tilt-up building when it was struck were treated for injuries or exposure caused by debris, said Cal Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera. They were also decontaminated with a water hose due to possible exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Military officials reported five injuries on the ground. The reason for the discrepancy was not clear.

Aerial video from KTLA's Sky5 showed a large hole in a commercial building. There were no signs of a fire at the building, which sat in the 22200 block of Opportunity Way.

A small blaze touched off by the crash was quickly extinguished, March Air Reserve Base Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday said.

The fire was largely contained by the building's fire suppression sprinkler system, Herrera added. Officials evacuated nearby businesses as a precaution.

Officials told the Associated Press that the multi-million dollar fighter jet was equipped with standard armaments, prompting additional caution from those working at the scene.

The F-16 belonged to the 114th Fighter Wing, based out of Sioux Galls, South Dakota, Air Force Reserve officials said in a written statement. Military officials had previously said the plane belonged to the 144th Fighter Wing, based out of the Fresno area.

It was conducting a training mission for the North American Aerospace Defense Command at the time of the crash, officials said.

"A board of qualified officers will investigate this mishap," according to the statement. "Additional details will be provided as they become available."

A parachute and an ejector seat could be seen sitting in a nearby field.

California Highway Patrol officials shut down both directions of the 215 Freeway between Harley Knox Boulevard and Cactus Avenue as first responders continued working at the scene.

Sheriff's officials asked the public to keep clear of the area. No further details were available.

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